[The Audiofiles] Throwback Thursday: Rockin’ to the 90’s

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Last Weekend, when Danny and I gallivanted up the California Coast for our friend’s beautiful wedding at the Falkirk Cultural Center – we took a necessary deviation from what’s seemingly become our standard road-tripping playlists, bass heavy, glitch infused tracks that more often than not lack a vocal track.  Don’t get me wrong, I thrive on the complexities, deviations in structure and the plethora of noises that stem from Electronic Music.  But, now that I’ve had my ‘Robot Ears’  on for the better part of the last decade – songs from individual genres seem to blend together effortlessly into musical amalgamation of Dubstep, Deep House and Trance.

If it weren’t for the varied live groups like Modestep, Odesza, Keys n Krates, EOTO, Emancipator Ensemble and STS9, expertly fused live DJ sets from the likes of Bassnectar, Andy C, Beardyman, Kastle, Disclosure, Bonobo and Shpongle and exceptional one off live Trance shows like Armin van Buuren’s Armin Only and Above & Beyond’s Acoustic at the Greek – I wouldn’t lost my faith in the umbrella genre of EDM long ago.  So, for this 10 hour cruise – we put up our disco duds and busted it old school thanks to some help from Spotify, and a whole lot of great memories from our childhood.  On my infinite list of things I love about Danny, it’s that even though we didn’t grow up near each other nor share any childhood memories – we both used to rock out to the same ol’ songs and that fact brings us so much closer together.  Music, as it already stands, is a building block of our relationship (hell, we met EDC weekend 2010, said the magic words at LIB then got engaged at Shambhala) – but it’s also an emotive, binding force.

As only children, a lot of the time we were left alone with music and our own thoughts – meaning that these artists had a substantial impact on our childhood, as well as our world view.  For the drive, we listened to it all.  From Rock and Roll like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sum 41,  blink182 and Sublime to Linkin Park, Foo Fighters and the Barenaked Ladies to Hip Hop and Rap  from Run DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, The Fugees, Nas, Puff Daddy (back when he was actually Puff Daddy), Notorious B.I.G. and some guilty pleasure pop music a la Celine, Whitney, Mariah, Alanis and Fiona – we went back, way back – and it was the best time ever.  So good, in fact, that I’ve made a collaborative playlist on Spotify and y’all can add your favorite 90’s tracks, too!  So take your hair down, put your feet up and let’s kick it old school for Throwback Thursday.

What’s your go to 90’s track? Leave it some love in the comments below – or better yet, head on over to Spotify and add to my collaborative playlist!

[Self Discovery] Set Your Intentions With a New Moon in Libra

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Earlier this week, we gracefully glided through Summer and into Fall with Tuesday’s Autumnal Equinox and tonight, there’s yet another celestial transition as the moon silently shifts between phases and lands in Libra.  On a celestial level, New Moons signify that the Sun and Moon are in the same Zodiac house; on a more personal note – they also mark pivotal moments and serve as catalysts for fresh starts and new beginnings. They’re the perfect time to finally attune your intentions and focus your energy on where it’s deserved in your life.   Libra, the 7th symbol of the Zodiac and an air sign ruled by Venus – the Goddess of Love and Beauty, is characterized by two scales – a nod to balance and equilibrium.  With the New Moon entering Libra, it’s a time for internal harmony and tranquility, as well as a time to focus on the relationships in our lives – whether they’re romantic, business partnerships or familial.

In the past, on Full Moon nights I’ve set out my crystals to absorb the energy from the moon’s rays – but tonight, instead of harnessing moon’s energy – I’ll be zeroing in on my own.  As the New Moon dawns, it’s a chance to reflect over the past four weeks and rebuild, refresh and renew your dreams.  On a personal level, I’ll be focusing my own energy on my intentions for the next month, diving into my soul and forging my own passionate path.  Between my projects for Disney and my work for The DJ List, I’ve started to feel my own dreams take a backseat to the work others are placing in my hands. I have a wedding to plan, a few business plans to craft and websites to code – there’s so much to do, that I’ve skirted away from doing anything.  More and more, I’ve felt the need to reevaluate my priorities and get back on track and this New Moon couldn’t have come at a better time.

Since part of the preparation of the New Moon is to hone in on intentions, to focus mine I’ll be getting my arts and crafts on – but you know, in an adult type of way (e.g. with beverage in hand!).  You might think scrapbooking is a thing of the past, but it’s a wonderful way to conceptualize your dreams, plan your passions and forge forward where you didn’t think possible.   If you’d like to take part – find a calming space in your residence and clear it of any mental clutter, and then craft an alter of your own for the evening.  Grab a candle or some incense to cleanse the area and if you have any crystals or gems, this is the perfect time to harness their energies.   This is all about what you aspire to be and the person you’re working so hard to become – so snag a journal and some pens, magazines + glue /tape, and have at it!

[Weekly Dose of Wisdom] Get Your Zen On

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Even though the month is only halfway through – to say that it’s been a long, or emotionally charged last few weeks would be an enormous understatement.  The good news, is that every situation provides a catalyst for change provided we’re honest with ourselves about our intentions, both past, present and future.  Over the last few years, I’ve found myself more and more enthralled and in touch with my spirituality – and since I was never raised within the construct of organized religion, I’ve been coveting the small moments that I feel truly connected and at one with the universe surrounding me, as well as within me.

A lot of thanks is due to Depak Chopra; it’s not that I know the man personally (though, I’d love to sit down with him and pick his brain), but through his website he offers a free, 21-day guided meditation course – often topical, with focuses on personal intentions, love, etc. Though it’s only for a few minutes a day, it provides a wonderful jumping off point for anyone unfamiliar with meditation.  The first time I completed a course was two years ago when I ventured off to Arkansas for a work trip, and ever since – I’ve noticed a wonderful, peaceful shift in the way I approach the world in times of chaos, as well as times of calmness.   Sometimes, when I meditate on my own – I use a little literary inspiration; here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on seeking peace, finding tranquility and establishing your internal equilibrium.

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[Oh, Snap!] Slow Magic at The Roxy

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Last night, Danny and I headed out to the infamous WeHo establishment ‘The Roxy’ to capture the beautiful beats and live antics of Slow Magic. Even though he performed at this year’s Lightning in a Bottle – with so much going on musically, I simply didn’t find the time to catch him so thank goodness I finally could cash in on this one. I’ve only heard a few singles from him so I wasn’t sure what to expect – between the live looping, energetic drumming and electrified mask – I was hooked. My only qualm about The Roxy is the all age mentality – nothing wrong with it at all, but when you’re nearing your thirties the last thing you want to do is hang out with high school students on a Friday night. But hey, at least the music was rad.

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[Oh, Snap!] A Morning at The Griffith Park Observatory and Planetarium

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There’s nothing quite as wonderful as when parents come cruising into town – work and reality take a back seat to family time, heart conversation and big laughs; the world slows to an even keel and all seems relatively right with the world. After spending last Saturday roaming around The Huntington Gardens, it was only fitting that we continue our conquest of Los Angeles – one beautiful park at a time. Danny and I’ve been to Griffith Park several times before – to hike on the trails both above and below the observatory, as well as adventure through the surrounding woods but last time was our first adventure inside the observatory itself.

Science buffs, technophiles and camera lovers be warned – it’s all sorts of amazing in there! From the elemental building blocks of science
(highlighted: are all the elements in the human body), to amazing telescopes and celestial discoveries, there really is something for every level of scientist.

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[My Top Ten] Works of Literary Non-Fiction

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Just the other morning, my best friend from childhood tagged me in a brand new Facebook Challenge; in the back of my head, all I could pray was that it had nothing to do with Ice, Buckets or viral infamy – instead, I was urged to impart some wisdom in the form of books.  Finally – a challenge I can get behind! Eagerly, I did an about face to my towering library of literature and smiled to myself; I wasn’t sure what the true challenge would be, finding a group of friends that shared my bibliophile-esque ways – or narrowing my whimsical reading list down to only ten books. Regardless, I finally finagled my way to a list of ten (well, eleven – if you count my second Daniel Goleman rec), but all in all – these are the authors that have spoken to my soul over the past few decades.  Even if you don’t pick a book from this list, I highly urge you to find an author, subject, time period or style that you enjoy and dive into it head first, heart second.

Reading is my favorite form of escapism, because you can keep one foot grounded in reality while your imagination takes off like a wild wind. Whether they’re tense tales of mystery, bold epiphanies dressed as mental manifest destiny, revolutionary scientific discoveries and deep rooted philosophical questions – I absolutely love it.  I devour words for breakfast and snack on syntax for dessert, have an affinity for alliteration and an unrequited love of symbolism, analogy and metaphor.  And my brain – it acts like a sponge; every new piece I read, whether novel, poem or song lyric has pushed me to evolve my style of writing.  Each and every one of these books, and authors, has touched my life for the better and I’ve seen the world with new eyes time and time again because of the wonder and beauty they’ve inspired in the world around me, as well as this weird little world inside my head.  Without further ado, these are the ten non-fiction books that have influenced my life, in no particular order other than my memory.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

A wonderful expose into the nature, and importance, of emotional intelligence.  I was first recommended this read by my Counselor in High School – though I didn’t read it until my early twenties, this has been one of my favorite Non Fiction reads.  I highly suggest ‘Social Intelligence’ as a follow-up if this piques your fancy.

On the Genealogy of Morals

In college, I waited until essentially the last second to complete my English requirement – the last quarter of my Senior Year, if you want to get specific.  But, the course – Comparative African Literature – was well worth the wait and the Professors and TAs were some of my favorite of my entire collegiate career.  At the end of the quarter, we got to pick our own essay topics – I was just descending into Nietzsche’s writings and ended up comparing Neo-Colonialism in Africa to the deep rooted Judaeo-Christian ideals of morality and ethics. Needless to say, both proved to be interesting reads.

Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination

With literary prowess and an incredible knack for storytelling, Robert Jourdain weaves one of my favorite stories – your brain on music.  I live, eat, sleep, breathe music – I wake up with songs in my head, and immediately head to my laptop to turn off the silence of the world.  Tunes, melodies, lyrics – they circle around me and I love how they can bring me to both tears and the height of ecstasy.  In this book, Jourdain takes a scientific approach to music – conveying how tone, melody, melody and composition all play into each other, and just why each and every one of us is so enthralled by it.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Like most of the authors on this list, to only put one Ruiz book on this list is potential blasphemy – every last piece he’s written I’ve eagerly gobbled up with my eyes and have felt better for it.  But, for anyone that hasn’t had experience with his books – The Four Agreements is an excellent place to start.  The simple premise, is that everyone should live by four essential agreements – Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best.  With mantras like that, how could you possibly go wrong?

The Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell

Mmm, Huxley. Where do I even begin – this was recommended by a few friends when I mentioned I was looking for an adventure, and a mental adventure is what I got.  Huxley circumnavigates the brain and delves into unmapped areas of human consciousness.  It’s an incredible read; take the journey.

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If Huxley is your cup of tea, Daniel Pinchbeck is your tall tumblr of Whisky; taking a page from Huxley’s mental explorations, Pinchbeck ventures into contemporary Shamanism with the assistance of modern psychedelics.

It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness

I found this book on my bookshelf a few years ago, I think my step-mother handed it down (she always gives me great reads) and it stayed there for years – but I was going through some difficult times and needed a mental adjustment.  ‘It’s Easier Than You Think’ provided just that. Through personal anecdote and tiny stories, humor and introspection, Sylvia Boorstein slowly but surely helped change my mindset towards a more positive way of life in the way of the Buddha.  

The World Without Us

Time for a little thought experiment: the dinosaurs were wiped out long before us, and there’s a chance humanity won’t last either – what happens to the world if the human race becomes extinct?  It’s not the most pleasant question to ask yourself, but in the realm of possibilities – why not indulge your brain – Alan Weisman sure did, and the results are astounding. There’s so much manmade infrastructure, like subway systems and dams, that will simply lay waste and become overrun by the original ecological state of the region.  Parts of the world would almost become unrecognizable within centuries.  It’s a wonderful read, and definitely made me think of the effect of global industrialization

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A book….about Numbers? Yep – you’re damn right it is.  Math is the Yin to the Written Yang – words can be flowery, beautiful, whimsical and shift in meaning – but numbers are static, stoic, firm and steady; they’re an exact science, and they’re one of the greatest discoveries of all time.  Tobias Dantzig provides an excellent account of the history of the numbers themselves; though not everyone likes reading about mathematics – if you happen to be a fan of the subject, you won’t be able to put this book down.

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This is the year of now – instant food, instant drinks, instant payments, insta-grams and a gogogo lifestyle are all indicative of a grandiose shift in global consciousness from stopping to smell the flowers, to filtering them in LoFi and throwing hashtags on them. Now, I love how tech-savvy the world has become – but I have a big fear that a lot of people are forgetting that it’s okay to walk instead of drive, call instead of text, send mail instead of email, cook a homemade dinner as opposed to popping something in the microwave.  Through example after example, Carl Honere exemplifies his issue with the ‘Cult of Speed’ and has converted me into a Slow-Life believer.

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood WarriorI literally grew up on a basketball court. Go back – farther back than High School, farther than Middle and even Elementary School…I can remember being 3 years old and my dad lifting me up to “shoot” my first shots on a big hoop, I remember watching, awe inspired, as players gracefully glided like gazelles up and down the court.  When I was at my most competitive, playing for a club team, my middle school team and being scouted for High School – my parents passed this book on to me and I eagerly lapped it up.  Phil Jackson is an idol in so many ways, and his words – and stories – truly spoke to me.  Whether you were a player, a coach or simply just love the game – this is an excellent read and I promise you won’t be putting it down anytime soon.